April 23, 2012 / 5:30 PM / 6 years ago

Concordia salvage contract worth at least $300 mln

ROME, April 23 (Reuters)- - The contract to salvage the Costa Concordia cruise liner, won by Titan Salvage of the United States and Italian firm Micoperi, is worth at least $300 million and could cost more, the capsized ship’s owner Costa Cruises said on Monday.

The two companies beat Smit Salvage, an arm of Dutch group Boskalis-Westminster and Italy’s Neri, which were also on the shortlist to remove the wreck of the ship. Titan Salvage is owned by U.S. group Crowley Maritime Corp .

The vessel capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio after hitting rocks on Jan. 13. At least 30 people died and two are still unaccounted for.

Costa Cruises chief executive Pierluigi Foschi, whose retirement was announced on Monday, said the winning proposal to salvage the ship had best met requirements such as the need to completely remove the vessel while also protecting the environment.

Costa Cruises is a unit of Carnival Corp & PLC .

He told reporters on the sidelines of a conference presenting the plans that the project was the most expensive of those proposed. The base contract would be worth $300 million but “it could also cost more”, he said.

An operation to pump more than 2,300 tonnes of fuel out of the vessel was completed last month.

The head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency Franco Gabrielli said the plan was to stabilise the ship by August and refloat it between November and January. The start of salvage operations would also depend on the issuing of necessary permits, he said.

The ship will be towed away and demolished in Italy, Foschi said, though the exact location for it to be moved to is yet to be decided.

Measures will be taken to protect the tourist industry during the summer season. The port of Giglio will remain open during the operation.

After the ship is removed, the seabed will be cleaned of remaining debris and measures will be taken to allow marine life to flourish again.

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